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Showing posts from December, 2009

Boxing Day Brunch Bake

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Queen Victoria must have loved Christmas to have declared the following day as yet another holiday. Boxing Day, celebrated on The Feast of St Stephen, is an English tradition -- the one day of the year when household help was given a bonus and a full day off as a reward for providing good service throughout the year.

For upper class Victorian families it meant the kitchen help would prepare foods in advance that the mistress of the house could manage without much fuss. For modern Brits, the day of goodwill has evolved into a banker's holiday encouraging the search for post-Christmas shopping bargains. Either way what's needed is a good breakfast, easy to prepare and this amazing brunch treat can be refrigerated up to twenty-four hours before baking.

FRENCH TOAST BRUNCH BAKE
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 cup orange favored liqueur
1 tablespoon maple syrup
8 slices Portugese sweet bread, approx. 3/4 inch thick
2 cups half anf half
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspo…

All Dressed Up for Christmas Breakfast

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What we Americans call oatmeal is known as porridge in the rest of the English speaking world. In Germany it's haferbrei, havregrot in Norway, owsiaka in Poland and puder in Estonia. But nowhere is oatmeal mush more beloved than in Scotland, where the art of porridge making is a competition.

The Golden Spurtle Award is bestowed to the world's most talented porridge maker at the annual World Porridge Making Championship in Carrbridge, Inverness-shire. The event is held in October and the winner recieves a gold-colored spurtle as a trophy -- the spurtle is a flat wooden spatula-type utensil traditionally used to stir the porridge during cooking. I use a standard issue wooden spoon.
Wonder what they would say about my special Christmas porridge recipe?
OATMEAL BRULEE
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1 cup of your favorite berries (fresh or frozen are best but canned is okay)
2 tablespoons white sugar

Make 2 cups of your favorite oatmeal. I like to use Quaker's quick cooking kind, it takes 1…

Peppermint Snow, Please

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Facebook friends from Washington, DC to New York City posted more snow warnings than The Weather Channel all last night. Today, my pals in eastern Massachusetts report near white out conditions.

Here in western Massachusetts, it fizzled to a dusting at best. So I made up a batch of brownie cookie bites topped with peppermint snow and we had our own blizzard right in our kitchen. The best part? Peppermint snow is a pleasure to shovel ... into our mouths. But this IS New England -- who knows what tomorrow will bring!

MINT COCOA BLIZZARDS
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup cocoa
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
1/8 cup of peppermint snow (crush 4 or 5 mini candy canes into a coarse powder)

Sift dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat in on medium. Add dry pre-sifted ingredien…

The Joy of Holiday Cookies

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Nothing sweetens the season like holiday cookies! The name comes from the Dutch koejke which translates to "little cake" -- the perfect single serving treat. Cookies have been part of cooking history for more than a thousand years and nearly every culture has a bite sized sweet that qualifies as a cookie.

Every year I try to come up with a new twist on an old favorite to celebrate the season for my annual cookie swap. These tasty morsels are my version of rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry filled with nuts, raisins or apricots, cinnamon and sugar wrapped in a flaky crust. A few good friends sharing a bottle of bubbly then going home with the bounty of a platter full of homemade cookies and the recipes. Lots of fun and yumminess, too!
RUGELACH
Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/3 cup plain or lemon flavored yogurt

Filling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup finely choppe…

Caribou Meatballs

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It’s snowy and cold here in New England -- a good day to defrost ground caribou and simmer up a big saucepot full of spicy meatballs. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend who hunts, you can substitute the caribou with sweet Italian sausage meat. Just remove the casings and crumble into your meatball mixture.

These meatballs are delicious cooked in any good sauce, even a jarred sauce from your grocer’s shelf, though I recommend homemade bubbled on your stove all morning. Double the recipe and freeze a quart full of the sauce and meatballs for another day. Stop in your favorite local bake shop for fresh rolls and enjoy a yummy grinder or have an old-fashioned meatball with pasta dinner and a tossed salad. Pass the grated Romano cheese, please!

BIG GAME MEATBALLS
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound ground caribou meat
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3 tablespoons hot tap water
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Combine breadcrumbs, egg and water in la…

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

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Okay, so I haven't got a partridge. And while Farmer Paul does grow pears out in our lovely backyard garden, the tree went bare weeks ago.

But I found these lovely little Seckel pears at a favorite farm market and just had to have them. Cored, poached in a sweet delicate sauce and served cold -- yummy!

PEAR DREAMS
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon strips lemon zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup cranberry liqueur
4 Seckel pears, on the larger side

With a small knife, remove as much of the core as possible from the bottom of each pear while leaving the fruit whole. Add the pears to the saucepan. Simmer, covered, until fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil; boil until reduced to 2 c., about 10 minutes. Pour the syrup through a sieve over the pears. Cover and chill, turning the pears occasiona…

An American Bird Meets French Cuisine

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If you love lemon flavor and believe in the curative power of some foods, then this Turkey Francaise is just what the doctor ordered. Using turkey Americanizes the classic French cuisine deliciously. The best part is that if you prefer to make it Italian, substitute the mushrooms with capers and you have Turkey Piccata.

Always a big decision for me which country’s lemon poultry recipe to favor since my ethnic heritage combines both French (my dad) and Italian (my mom) and my grandmothers on both sides were phenomenal and inspiring cooks; especially for a little girl who loved wearing her grannies’ aprons!

Ask half a dozen food historians where lemons originated from and you’ll likely get half a dozen different answers. The exact origins of the lemon remain vague, it is widely presumed that lemons were native to India and China where the tart juice was known for its medicinal properties and as an antiseptic. Lemons made their first appearance in the Arab world and the Mediterranean regio…

Died and Gone to Chocolate Heaven

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Chocoholics rejoice! This one's for you ... a warm and satisying dessert. Chocolate is festive and if you're looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit, nothing beats warm chocolate soup.

Who can resist a Godiva boutique display? Or those Lindt bars on special? Everyone needs a chocolate snowman, don't they? Everything from chocolate tea bisquits to dipped dried fruits boxed and wrapped in gold and silver trimmed red velvet boxes -- a sprig of silk ivy points at you as if to say, "Just nevermind your old Aunt Alice, buy me for yourself!"

While you're at it, pick up a high cocoa content bar to make this really yummy soup. You may keel over in a chocolate coma but you and your holiday guests will lie unconscious with a smiling face. Guaranteed.

CHOCOLATE HEAVEN SOUP
Amaretto Crème
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup 1% milk
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

Chocolate Soup

1 cup 1% milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 ounces 85% cocoa chocolate squares
Dash of s…